Otedola denies releasing audio tape to media house

Channels Television  
Updated July 9, 2012

A member of the House of Rresentatives Ethics and Privileges Committee,  Ibrahim Bello said that Oil magnate,  Femi Otedola has denied releasing the audio tape of his purported telephone conversation with the suspended Chairman of the ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy, Farouk Lawan to the media.

Mr Bello, who disclosed this to journalists said “when the committee asked Otedola how the media station got the audio tape,  he told us to … summon the media house and demand how they came about the tape.

“He denied the audio clip. All he said at the meeting was that Farouk Lawan lied four times and that’s all. What I am saying is on record and we have it.”

Mr Bello, however, said rules are meant to be followed, irrespective of status, which is responsible for the insistence of the Committee  to hold its sessions behind closed-doors

He said: “Nobody can come and bend our rules. We don’t have any business with Otedola.  I said it before his lawyer, who  told him not to talk with us and answer our questions. He was only a witness before us and we told him categorically. We have ten lawyers in the ethics and privileges committe

“But he came with a Senior Advocate who sat beside him and told him not to answer our questions. He didn’t know that Otedola was only a witness before us and we told him categorically

“But the position of the Nigerian law as at today is that he who gives graft and he who receives are both culprits. You are not a member of the parliament and you were alleged to have given one of us something which is illicit, then, you are the best person to come before the Committee and tell us the true position of what transpired before you and him”.

The lawmaker said the importance of the case would not give room for laxity as the integrity of the House as an institution is at stake.

“This particular issue is a unique case. As a committee, our business is the conduct of affairs of our members. But this matter is unique because it involves somebody who gave and somebody who took. The allegation is that somebody who is not a parliamentarian gave to a parliamentarian.

“And we in the parliament want to ascertain the veracity of the claim. Are we going to import a demon to come and find out what transpired between Otedola and Lawan?”

“It’s a matter whereby the onus is on Otedola to come before us and give us justification testifying to the fact that truly he gave Lawan graft because he is an accused person too by virtue of our laws. So, can you see the fallacy in this country? We don’t know who is protecting the accused person here.

“He (Lawan) came and we interrogated him for almost four hours after giving his testimony he left, with the arrangement that whenever we need his presence he will come back. Now he (Otedola)is insisting that we should go into a public hearing”.